News Column

?A Stradivarius for the People? impresses its audience

June 26, 2014

By Dede Biles, Aiken Standard, S.C.

June 26--An Italian musician playing a nearly 300-year-old violin attracted more than 200 people to The Etherredge Center at USC Aiken on Wednesday night. One of them was 10-year-old Anne Masters Calfee.

"It was amazing," she said after hearing the presentation.

Her friend, Katelyn Vergakis, 9, expressed a similar opinion.

"I loved it," she said.

"A Stradivarius for the People" was the name of the concert. The event was a fundraiser for the Aiken Opera Society's Wonderful World of Opera program that brings musical theatrical performances to Aiken area schools each year.

The stars of the evening were Maestro Matteo Fedeli and the "ex-Bazzini" Stradivarius violin made by the celebrated Italian artisan Antonio Stradivari in 1715.

In 2011, another Stradivarius violin known as the "Lady Blunt" brought $15.9 million when auctioned off to raise money for a Japanese earthquake and tsunami relief fund.

Stradivari created both the "ex-Bazzini" and the "Lady Blunt" during his "golden period," a time when his skills as a craftsman were at their peak.

"This one is better, I think," said Fedeli of the "ex-Bazzini" Stradivarius, which is six years older than the "Lady Blunt."

Accompanied by Maestro Andrea Carcano on piano, Fedeli performed pieces by Sergei Rachmaninoff, Gabriel Faure and other composers.

"I often think of this violin as a VIP, and I am in the violin's entourage," Fedeli said. "But I am a very important person with the violin on the stage because I play it and give it the voice of my emotions."

Sandy Harris, an Aiken Opera Society board member, served as the chairman for Fedeli's concert. She said the organization provided around 20 free tickets for the presentation to young people in hopes of getting them "fired up" about classical music.

"You never know who will be sitting there who is wonderfully talented and realizes, 'I can do this,'" Harris said. "And even if they can't learn to play classical music, they can still appreciate it. Maybe they will listen to it on the radio and have a different point of view."

Joanne Stanford, who teaches music at Mead Hall Episcopal School and privately, arranged for 11 of her violin students, including Calfee and Vergakis, to use some of the free concert tickets that the Aiken Opera Society provided.

"It was very exciting," said Stanford of the portion of the program when Fedeli came down from the stage and walked around the edges of the audience while playing.

Fedeli received standing ovations from the crowd and a proclamation from the City of Aiken. He said he would like to return to Aiken next year to perform.

Dede Biles is a general assignment reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since January 2013. A native of Concord, N.C., she is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


(c)2014 the Aiken Standard (Aiken, S.C.)

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Source: Aiken Standard (SC)

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